Category Archives: Church

Some thoughts from 1 Samuel 3 (Part 1)

1 Samuel 3 is one of the chapters in the book that actually does speak about Samuel. (He isn’t even named in many of the chapters – including the 4 chapters immediately preceding his funeral in chapter 25. Although he does briefly reappear as a ghost in chapter 28…and then there’s 2 Samuel, which isn’t about Samuel at all…) As the last three verses indicate (1:19-21), the story is a prophetic calling narrative, showing how all Israel came to recognize him as God’s authorized spokesman.

Short chapter summary: God calls out to young Samuel late in the night, but Samuel misinterprets the voice as Eli’s, yelling to him from the other room. After making this mistake twice, his mentor Eli finally recognizes that Samuel must be hearing from God and advises him to speak directly to God next time. God then gives Samuel an oracle against his mentor Eli and his sons, which he tells Eli in the morning.

I really like this story. Not only is this a story that captures our imagination, but it’s a story with layers of meaning packed into it, if you look closely enough – if you have “eyes to see.” Here are some things that caught my attention:

v. 1: “The word of the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.”

  1. In the circles I usually run in, “the word of the Lord” is typically understood as codeword for “the Bible” or, perhaps, “the gospel message.” Here, it seems that the phrase is being used differently, in a way that might fit more comfortably in more “charismatic” Christian settings, where people speak more frequently of God directly speaking to them. “I heard God tell me to share the gospel with her, so I did.” “God told me to go to China for missions.” It is often in these settings that visions and dreams are more accepted as legitimate ways that God continues to communicate to us today. Here, the phrase clearly isn’t being used to talk about the extant written scriptures (what would it mean for them to be “rare”?). The rarity of hearing a specific, momentary word from God is being paralleled with the infrequency of visions, which are another form of spiritual encounter with God, intended for communicating specific messages. Another question that arises here: Why was the word of the Lord infrequent? Did it have to do with the lack of spiritual receptivity, so that this introductory phrase is an indictment on Israel for its spiritual deafness and blindness? Perhaps we also need to ask ourselves whether we are open to hearing from God today – perhaps, even, through more “charismatic” ways of communication?
  2. Does anyone besides me notice the mixed metaphor here? The word – the basic unit of verbal, auditory communication – is spoken of in parallel with visions – a visually-experienced, and therefore perhaps more ambiguous, form of communication. Words are heard with our ears. Visions are seen with our eyes. Words can certainly be misheard or misunderstood, but visions often require a mediating interpreter (remember Daniel?). Both forms of communication, though, require discernment and attentiveness in order for the message to be successfully received. You must have keen eyesight to see the vision; you must have good hearing to listen to the word of the Lord.

Coming up in Part 2: thoughts from verse 2. I’ll leave the verse here for you to mull over – maybe you’ll see some of the connections that I’ll be pointing out in my next post. Reading over chapter 1-2 could help as well.

It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well).

A prayer to end this post: God, speak to us! We want to hear from you. Use as your spokespeople. And if you already are speaking to us and revealing things to us, but we just aren’t listening or paying attention, unstop our ears and open our eyes, so that we can listen carefully, see clearly, and obey you. Help us to recognize all the ways you speak to us, and to be attentive to your words, so that we can help others to listen to you as well.

May it be to us according to your word,

Amen.

Amen.

Reflections on “Gospel Worldview”

I want to take this chance to share a few reflections on the idea of “gospel worldview” as we Manna-ites (and many who have benefited from such works as Al Wolter’s Creation Regained) often conceive of it, in terms of a story consisting primarily of four major plot-points: Creation. Fall. Redemption. Glory.

As a pushback against the a-historical existential approaches we may have been used to before college, it is certainly an advance to realize that the gospel is not simply a time-less message calling people to a moment of existential decision (although it certainly includes that), but an on-going story of God’s work in the world in which we may find ourselves playing a part. Over the past year, however, I have come to realize that there are also significant lacunae in such an approach that desperately need to be addressed if the “narrative gospel” we hear in gospel worldview is actually going to move beyond the realm of “theoretical framework” to something that actually gives people a story to live in and for. These thoughts are actually still quite scattered in my mind, but I hope that trying to articulate some of theme here might spark some fruitful discussion on the issue.

Please note that I am in no way criticizing the idea of a “gospel worldview”. My hope is to draw out implications of the idea that might not have been considered enough among the evangelical communities in which such a notion is now taking root. I’m trying to ask the “What Now?” questions that hope to point us beyond the “anti-dualism”, “pro-cultural-engagement” rhetoric that tends to characterize much of the conversation to address the kind of questions that practically confront us once we’re trying to live our lives.

Thesis 1: Beyond Epistemology

Evangelical discussions of “story” have been quite popular, but often without specifying which story we ought to be living in. Creation-fall-redemption-glory certainly does a good job of abstracting out of the historical narrative of the Scriptures, but it also does not substitute for the almost-2000-years of church history that have happened ever since and which constitutes the continuing story of God’s work in history. It is one thing to make the epistemological point that one ought to be thinking more in the categories of “story” and “narrative” instead of “systematic theology” and “existential decision” and a different thing to actually get to the story or theology itself.

In other words, in “gospel worldview”, we are given the lineaments of a story, but we are actually lacking the story itself. Hopefully, this point will become clearer as we continue.

Thesis 2: Beyond Evangelicalism

Part of the reason evangelicalism is having a problem getting “beyond epistemology” is that, in a large part, its fundamental story is one that repudiates the value of stories. As such, even when it has shifted to trying to think of things in a “storied” format, it will nevertheless remain in the world of epistemology rather than take seriously what its own epistemology implies: taking tradition seriously. A large part of this has to deal with the fact that American evangelicalism was birthed as a part of a particular tradition – that of political liberalism – for which the rejection of tradition is part and parcel of its own “tradition”. Writers like Andy Crouch and Jim Skillen can push the the “good of politics”, but not to the extent that they get down to the real questions of political philosophy: how ought we to live?

Consider, for instance, Calvin College philosopher James K.A. Smith’s reviews of Crouch’s Playing God and Skillen’s The Good of Politics, two recent books on politics and power that have recently been published. In the former, he notes how Crouch’s attempt to push back against the dominant Nietzschean “myth” of power as primal conflict fails to mention that it is precisely this “myth” that also underlies the Hobbesian, Lockean, and Rousseau-ian ideas of “social contract” that lie at the foundation of the American political experiment. In the latter, he notes that, appeals to “creational norms” and the “common good” end up underwriting what looks like “a pretty standard liberal democratic game”.

But does “engaging in politics Christianly” equate to “politics as usual” in a liberal democracy? (This is, by the way, why Eric Gregory’s class on Christian Ethics spends most of the second half addressing the question of “Christianity and Liberalism”. It is among THE questions of our day and age.) The answer is not clear. The problem with contemporary “gospel worldview” approaches to the question, however, is that they are often blind to the fact that this is even a question, owing to the own foundational narratives we tell ourselves without thinking. We need to be aware of the structural conditions in which we live, that we may be aware of the perennial temptations that may come as a result of them and what that might mean for our witness as Christians today. For that, we’re going to need more specific stories. In other words, we need to take history and tradition a lot more seriously than we have before.

Thesis 3: Beyond Swimming the Tiber

Some of the most cogent contemporary critiques of liberalism, unsurprisingly, come from Roman Catholics who trumpet the importance of “tradition” over and against the mere procedural rationality that tends to characterize approaches dominant within the context of liberal democracy. Those who trumpet this view have a particular narrative of church history which informs contemporary thought and behavior, one expressed quite powerfully by thinkers and writers such as Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) or Brad Gregory (The Unintended Reformation). Simply put, these narratives seem to paint church history in a way that puts the “fall” at the Reformation rejection of Catholic tradition in favor of “sola Scriptura” and the cultural malaise in which we find ourselves today as an unfortunate working-out of the implications of those intellectual decisions which found their roots in the intellectual debates of late Medieval Scholastic philosophy. (There are also Calvinist/Reformed versions of this, with Arminians typically getting the short end of the stick. This is not to mention various Anabaptist approaches – read: Hauerwas/Yoder – which will locate the “Fall” as far back as the onset of Constantinian Christianity.)

While the distinct advantage that many self-consciously confessional approaches hold over your generic evangelical one is the fact that they are self-consciously aware of the particular historical narrative they are living in (although how true this is in the context of American society is up for contestation. At the very least, they are in theory committed in a way that many evangelicals are in theory not.), these – with Catholic narratives like MacIntyre’s and Gregory’s included – often fail to adequately grapple with the reasons that liberalism came to be attractive in the first place: the problem of being unable to adjudicate between the various meta-narratives being offered by differing confessional traditions.

In short, merely adopting the standpoint of one or another confessional tradition is an insufficient antidote to the problem of putting flesh on the bare bones of the gospel-worldview framework that confronts us today. This is, interestingly enough, the approach that characterizes another Catholic philosopher, Charles Taylor, whose 2007 book A Secular Age challenges the ways in which scholars have traditionally approached the questions of secularism and religious pluralism that are part and parcel of this conversation about liberalism and story.

Thesis 4: The Importance of (Trinitarian) Theology

Without spending too much time bringing up various -ology’s which might confuse more than contribute, I want to make the hypothesis that any real solution to the current malaises that confront us today are going to require innovative re-articulations of the perennial truths that have grounded the Christian faith from the very beginning. Indeed, part of the reason that “narrative” approaches to the faith work in the first place is that in Jesus Christ God’s future has telescoped forwards into the present so that through the Spirit, we can know that the workings-out of history will have the contours we affirm it has. It is Trinitarian theology that underlies a narrative approach to the faith that takes seriously the reality of Jesus’ incarnation, presence (in the Eucharist), and second coming in our past, present, and coming future.

In other words, if we want the concrete historical story we tell to be faithful to the God whose image we claim to reflect, we are going to have to do some serious reflections on what that God is like in order to understand who we are and where we stand in history. In particular, I might add, we are going to need ecumenical theological reflection that transcends the countless divisions among theological traditions and finds a way of articulating a coherent meta-narrative for all Christians to identify with and live out. This will not be easy. The Enlightenment attempt to do this by doing away with tradition is the intellectual forefather of much of contemporary evangelical (and liberal!) theology today. How to affirm their goals while avoiding their mistakes will be a challenge for our generation to face.

Thesis 5: A Woe-fully Inadequate Attempt

I do not want to end this post on “story” without at least attempting to offer a bare outline of a kind of stories we might be able to tell about about ourselves and where we stand in church history.At the same time, however, I want to emphasize how inadequate my feeble attempts to do so are.

Christians in the West are, after a long period of cultural hegemony, finally confronting the reality that the values of Christianity and those of the broader society at large have less and less in common. Indeed, we are at the same time realizing that much of what we thought we had in common might not have actually been compatible after all. The privatization of faith, the divide between the “religious” and the “secular”, “faith” and “reason”, the social organization of churches into “denominations” and their role in public life – these and more are legacies with which we Christians today have to grapple, asking again and again the question of whether walking in these ways is compatible with the truth of the gospel. The task before us is not so much the task of coming up with “distinctively Christian” ways to engage in previously taken-for-granted tasks, but to push back against the individualizing forces of modern society so as to recover the reality of a historical community testifying to the world of the presence and love of the One God who dwells in and among us. We do what we do as members of the ekklesia (“called out ones”/”church”) of God, whose gifts are not for ourselves, but for one another and for the world as sign, foretaste, and instrument of the kingdom that is already-but-not-yet. Who we are must be grounded in who we will be; and what we do must be grounded in the holistic vision of human flourishing of the new heavens and new earth.

Democratic liberalism was an attempt to curb the violences of the past in which competing visions of human flourishing clashed to the extent of shedding blood in search of their realization. Our danger is the opposite: instead of fighting and dying for various ideologies that might lack the universality of the Kingdom of God, it is all-too-easy for us to lapse into the complacency of living lives which do not quite appreciate what it is that is worth living: to experience the particular ennui we know as “boredom”, to partake of the activities we call “entertainment” in search of – not responsibility nor self-transcendence, but “fun”. The message of the cross and “dying to self” are translated into terms of suffering under various societal obligations instead of the existential risks of positing what it means to be human; to chase the ladder of success because one knows not what else to do instead of sharing the deep self-knowledge that allows one to truly empty oneself and take on the form of a servant.

As I have said, this is abut a woefully inadequate attempt to start a conversation that I think needs to happen. We who care about “gospel worldview” need to get past the “lens” part to realize that we are born into an ongoing story of how God is working in the world, and how merely having the right “lens” doesn’t actually help you navigate where you are in that story. Indeed, recovering that story is actually quite difficult in a world which emphasizes how everything that is worth having in life can merely be bought or sold, a world that tries to convince us that the dominant narrative we ought to be concerned about is the narrative of ourselves and what “experiences” we’ve had or “successes” we’ve attained. That we are not the primarily determinants of our selves and future might be the first truth we need to hammer into ourselves. We were born with histories and backgrounds, and these histories and backgrounds hold claims over us that we cannot so easily deny, even if they also find their transformations in Christ. This great cloud of witnesses hovers over us as we run, walk, or stumble through our own race. Will we persevere?

Christ at the Checkpoint

What would Jesus do if he were standing at a checkpoint in Israel/Palestine today? Asked that question one year ago, I would have given you a blank stare. Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I thought of Israel only as a Bible-place of God’s chosen people, quaintly holy and surely blessed. Checkpoints, occupation, Palestine – these words meant nothing for most of my 22-year-old life.

Today I write from Bethlehem at the end of “Christ at the Checkpoint,” a Christian conference that asked “WWJD?” in context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have an answer.

The question is complicated, as is any discussion of Israel and Palestine in America. I studied the Middle East at Princeton and Oxford, where my classes were objective, historical and politically correct. I swallowed timelines and parsed narratives, but never wanted to make a value judgment on the situation. In my eyes, Tigers for Israel and the Princeton Committee on Palestine were akin to College Republicans and Democrats. Both had valid points and interesting arguments, but no one was right or wrong. Both groups also seemed very emotional, and I wasn’t one to get swept away with radical types.

Then I graduated and came to the Middle East. I first visited Israel and Palestine last August, after a summer of Arabic study in Oman and before moving to Jordan. I wanted to see things for myself but kept my eyes narrowed, wary of activists’ exaggerations.

Instead, I found an occupation; a deliberate power imbalance where the weak were daily stepped on by the strong. Israel’s being “chosen by God” somehow exempted it from international law, basic human rights and the command to love our neighbors. My church and state saw innocent people illegally hurt and beamed in approval.

This went against everything I knew about Christ’s teachings. I came expecting to find suffering but not systematic injustice, and never any Wrong in which my country, church and self were complicit. I felt shocked, confused, and used.

My friends in Jordan are always astonished to hear that I went to the best school in America, but never knew that there is ongoing oppression in Palestine. “I thought it was complicated,” I tell them.

Living here, I’ve learned that injustice is only complicated to those who don’t suffer from it. In faraway America, I’d confused myself with semantics and details on who shot what or signed which treaties when and where, and why this or that made occupation reasonable.

But nothing is complicated to my arbitrarily detained friend in solitary confinement, to the mother whose baby cries from tear gas, to the man who has lost three daughters in a second’s bombing, or to the child who is afraid. Nitpicky suspicions fall apart when I face their eyes and stories. I am ashamed that I ever thought violence might be justified in the ostensible name of God.

At the conference, one older British woman told me she was a Christian Zionist.

“It’s wonderful that Jesus said we are to be peacemakers,” the woman said, brushing white hair back with wrinkled hands. “But I’m afraid.” How can we give up land to Arabs who are bloodthirsty terrorists, she asked? There are too many Muslims wanting to destroy the West, she said, in Israel and in Europe, feeding off welfare systems to plot suicide bombings behind closed doors.

“I like this conference but have trouble applying what we hear,” the woman said. She’d lived in an Israeli settlement for 10 years, working for Christian Friends of Israel. “I want to feel for Palestinians as I do for Jews when they are dying or hurt. I want to feel for children, women, civilians…” Suddenly she was crying. “Oh, dear, I’m sorry. I’m not quite there, but I want to be. Do you understand?”

I did. It can’t be easy to stake your life on something and see it flipped inside out, I thought, remembering an Israeli friend who’d changed his thinking after a gap year in Tibet. “The Tibetans live there with their language, religion and culture. It’s all Tibetan,” he’d told me, face wrenched, words slow. “But the people in control are all Chinese. Another race is in charge. I thought that was so wrong. Then I felt upset, because like, you know, it was sort of, it reminded me of what we have here.”

Questioning one’s belief system hurts. An Omani friend once told me that he’d woken up every night at 4 a.m. for two weeks, crying, when he converted to Christianity. “It felt like I was ripping off my own skin,” he said.

“Can we pray together?” I asked the woman, and we did.

Globalization is a gift to my generation. We don’t believe people in other countries are so different that we can treat them as lesser humans. A surfer friend in Tel Aviv once asked me: “What are the Arabs like? Do they drink? Smoke?” I laughed, telling him about my Jordanian friends who Instagram their parties, struggle with their sexual orientations, play flamenco guitar and wish they could just make music instead of being engineers and accountants. We are young, we are the same, we all just want to live. Our generation knows this.

Yet relating to one another is not enough. Before coming to the Middle East, my American millennial privilege had made me globalized but desensitized to suffering. I knew injustices existed but was too busy writing Facebook statuses about my thesis to examine them. I enjoyed feeling like a generally good person and skirted around sensitive questions that might threaten my career or upset my worldview.

Here, I’ve learned that people suffer when the privileged are ignorant or apathetic. Millennials like humanitarianism. We Tweet about Syria, work for nonprofits and glory in social entrepreneurship, all of which I love. But what if we microfinance a rural woman’s handicraft business, and then a drone kills her and her children? Seeking justice must extend beyond doing Good to also checking ourselves for Bad. We must ask harder questions, dig deeper into our state and military’s actions, not to undermine America but because we love her.

Having seen the occupation, I believe it is unjust and must end. I am not against Israel, America, or evangelicals. I just don’t want policies that hurt people in my church and nation’s name without our understanding or consent.

Conservative evangelicals may call me naïve. My response is not argument but invitation. I grew up in Asia, so when Americans ask if Shanghai is a Communist rice field, I laugh and ask them to come look around for themselves. When others say Palestinians are hateful and all Arabs want to push Israel into the sea, I again say, come and see.

As a follower of Christ, I believe that God stands with the oppressed. But oppressors are themselves oppressed by insecurity and fear. I’ve heard many Israeli and American friends speak out of terror: the Communists will get us! The jihadis will bomb us! The non-Western world lives in cultures of hate that will crush us the moment we let them, so we’d better crush them first!

If Jesus were here today, I believe he would pierce these lies in a second. They are so flimsy against the truth that man is man, filled with dignity, and no one is less human or less fiercely loved by our God than another. I believe Christ can and will free the oppressed by freeing their oppressors from fear.

But we must first commit to seek truth, relentlessly and humbly. I speak to Americans, Christians, and especially my generation: friends, political vitriol and religious rhetoric are distractions. Let us choose honesty over comfort. Let us ask questions even if they lead us to give up our privileges. Let us be smart and let us be brave – above all, let us be human.

I originally wrote this piece for +972, an independent online magazine focusing on Israel and Palestine, after I spent last week in Bethlehem at Christ at the Checkpoint. I volunteered on the media team doing FB, Twitter and their blog posts (learned a lot about ignoring Internet haters and trolls, haha). For those who want to learn more about Christian Zionism, I HIGHLY recommend watching this documentary (use code CATC2014 to get it for free this week). I also found this dialogue on replacement theology, between a Wheaton prof and Messianic Jew, really helpful. Also loved Princeton alum Joseph Cumming on Christian response to rise of religious (Islamist and Jewish) states, and Munther Isaac on neighbors.

(Ekuo I’ll also write another normal blog post! But wanted to share this as well.)

A Gospel of Flourishing or a Gospel of Faithfulness?

As a seminary student, I spend a lot of time thinking about Jesus and the Gospel of his Kingdom. And one thing I’ve realized over the years is that the Gospel is slippery. If we aren’t careful, our wandering hearts are prone to distort the truth of the Gospel in small ways, so that over time, the truth is lost. What began as a disciplined corrective towards what we recognized as distortions of the truth slowly begins to take on a life of its own, becoming its own form of distortion of truth leading us away from Christ. In a way, it is Christians’ realism about our own tendency to deceive ourselves that we need to check our teachings against faithful expressions of the Gospel in summarized formulations like this one, which in turn we need to be constantly checking against the Scriptures. When we do so, we will find that where a faithful Gospel worldview and distorted worldviews part ways often comes down to subtle nuances – overemphases, shifts in focus, fine distinctions. Yet without fail, we will also find that the resources for critiquing and renewing our worldviews are invariably found within the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Happy or Holy?
Take the worldview that has been variously called “Word of Faith,” “Health and Wealth,” “Name it and Claim it,” and the one I’ll be using here – the “Prosperity Gospel.” (Speaking of which, I’m hoping to read this book at some point – anyone want to read it with me?) While there isn’t necessarily any organized set of doctrinal affirmations among Prosperity Gospel teachers, the general emphasis that characterizes this worldview is a tendency to conflate spiritual well-being and worldly prosperity, measured in terms of financial success, social status, physical well-being, happiness, etc. Recognizing this as a distortion of the Christian Gospel, believers sometimes respond by affirming aphorisms like “God is more interested in you being holy than happy.” Others may say that God calls us not to be so focused on earthly success, but to focus on “spiritual” success – glorifying God, converting souls, amassing treasures in heaven, etc.

Christians with a Gospel Worldview will be dissatisfied with both answers. To the prosperity gospel believers, we’ll point out that believers like Abraham who are commended for their faith in Hebrews 11 were those who also “died in faith without receiving the things promised.” We’ll point to the numerous places throughout the Scriptures that warn believers that the prevailing character of their existence before the return of Christ will be one of suffering, struggle, persecution. We’ll point to those proverbs, or heck Ecclesiastes even, that suggest that it is folly to put our ultimate trust in riches or health.

To those who react with a “spiritualizing” response, we’ll point to how what was promised to Abraham was a promised land – a thoroughly earthly blessingNo promise of some sort of spiritual joy or holy contentment here. The promise certainly was connected to Abraham’s spiritual faithfulness to God, but the blessing that was promised wasn’t only the happiness intrinsic to the very act of loving God, the happiness that comes from being holy. It certainly included that, but the promise was for the kind of blessing that what we all intuitively recognize as a gift from God every time we pray after a flight – “Thank you God for keeping me safe.” It is the daily blessings that we recognize God tells us to ask him for in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” They are blessings that don’t only have to do with our being spiritually in right relation to God, but blessings that have to do with our prosperity here on earth.

Faithfulness & Flourishing 
If we start from a robust Gospel worldview, we recognize that the world was created for comprehensive flourishing – for shalom. And that as long as humanity remained spiritually trusting God, God would cause their earthly existence to flourish, to prosper. With sin, humanity’s spiritual death led to death in all dimensions of creation, such that physical thriving and happiness being a direct result of spiritual faithfulness no longer remains the order of the day. Indeed, a dominant theme in the Psalms is lament about the reality that in our world, it is the faithful who suffer while the wicked prosper.

As Scripture progress, nevertheless, we find that God still continues to promise flourishing for those who by faith trust in Him; though the prosperity awarded to the faithful is no longer to be expected to be fulfilled in this broken world, it remains a promise to be fulfilled when God comes to end sin and evil, death and injustice, once and for all. Nevertheless, God’s promise of flourishing does at times break into our present broken world, as evidenced in God’s constant faithfulness to his people in “working all things out for their comprehensive good.” (Romans 8:28) Biblical prosperity, then, obviously includes our physical flourishing. The typical dichotomy that is made between spiritual and physical prosperity should instead give way to the more Biblical distinction between present and future prosperity. God continues to promise prosperity to those who remain faithful to him, and though that promise remains largely a future reality, we experience  glimpses of that glorious future in the present.

The Cross
So, perhaps this could be summarized by saying this:  God promises ultimately to bring prosperity to those who remain faithful, but prosperity in the present (think: “already-not-yet”) largely looks like living faithfully in anticipation of receiving that gift. This guards against us preaching a naive prosperity Gospel that neglects the guaranteed difficulty of the Christian life, but it also frees us from captivity to an otherworldly piety that is unable to give us the motivation to work for real justice and flourishing in this world.

For Reformation theologian Martin Luther, the best corrective for helping Christians critique worldview distortions such as the ones discussed above was the cross of Christ. He distinguished between “theologians of glory” and “theologians of the cross.” “Theologians of glory” – a derogatory term for Luther – are unable to discern the glory of God as they look at Jesus on the cross. Instead of looking to Jesus’ faithfulness to God as a picture of true, faithful prosperity in this age, theologians of glory look to typical definitions of glory and prosperity that don’t require having spiritual understanding to recognize. “Theologians of the cross,” on the other hand, recognize in what seems like the foolishness and weakness of Jesus hanging on the cross the wisdom and power of God (1 Cor. 1-2). They recognize that Christ on the cross was the embodiment of a faithful pursuit of prosperity, a pursuit which rejects temptations to seek cheap sources of fleeting happiness, to accrue success through injustice, to accept cheap substitutes of lasting, final, true flourishing. And they recognize that at his resurrection and glorification, Jesus ultimately did receive the glory and blessing promised to him – “all authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me.” (Matt. 28)